IBM adds four-way 550 server to new i5 product line

IBM Corp. bolstered the new eServer i5 server lineup with the i5 550, a new system based on the Power 5 chip that can run multiple operating systems.

The i5 550, announced Tuesday, is the third i5 server to emerge from IBM. In recent months, the company has moved to standardize its former pSeries servers and iSeries servers on a common set of components and operating systems.

The i5 servers are designed for small and medium-size businesses looking to purchase a working server off the shelf that is easy to integrate into an existing environment. The former pSeries servers, now known as p5 servers, are designed for larger businesses that require a custom server for their environments.

These i5 servers come with IBM’s i5/OS operating system and DB2 database software bundled with the server, but can run several different operating systems including Linux, AIX or Windows. IBM’s Virtualization Engine software brings partitioning and system management capabilities once confined to mainframe systems down to the new i5 series servers.

Customers can purchase the server with several different application bundles from software vendors such as PeopleSoft Inc. and Lawson Software Inc., or a version with IBM’s own Lotus Domino e-mail software.

IBM’s i5 550 server comes with four Power 5 processors. However, IT managers can choose to purchase the machine with only two of those processors activated, if their application workload doesn’t require the additional capacity right away. This gives those businesses the flexibility to purchase a two-way server but have the capacity of a four-way server already built into the system, IBM said.

“The 550 is the one you buy when you know that four-way is as big as I need. It lacks the additional scalability infrastructure and is thus less expandable, but the upside is you get it at a better price,” wrote Jonathan Eunice, principal analyst with Illuminata Inc. in Nashua, N.H., in an e-mail interview.

The two-way configuration has a list price of US$74,000. The activation fee for each additional processor is US$3,700, plus operating system or application licensing costs. It will be available on Sept. 10, IBM said.

– With files from Robert McMillan, IDG News Service

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